Plenty In Life Is Free

Discussion in 'Dog Products' started by SD&B, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I read "Plenty in Life is Free" a year ago and really loved it. I think the thing that stood out for me was that she considered the spiritual side of dog training, not just the science. It is so true that we learn so much about dogs when we have one with behavior problems, and we see other people and their dogs completely differently. Kathy Sdao realized that the advice she had been giving her clients was wrong when she finally got a dog of her own with some serious issues. I need to read the book again!
    jackienmutts and srdogtrainer like this.

  2. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I also read Plenty in Life is Free (I seem to remember another thread on it, but I could be wrong) and loved it and recommended it to others. I thought it was excellent. I'm a hugeKathy Sdao fan. I also missed watching the video (within this thread) and just watched it - I'd love to see her sometime, I love listening to her. She just makes sense. And I also liked the way she brought the spiritual side together with the scientific side of training in the book.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  3. JazzyandVeronica Experienced Member

    I also read, enjoyed and totally agreed w/ Plenty in Life is free and I am also a big Kathy Sdao fan.

    I have a bizarre reaction to NILF; it rubs me the wrong way...which technically makes no sense to me because it is based in learning theory...yet it seems to me that allot of times it gets used within the context of a dominance based thought process...if that makes sense at all. It gets talked about and thrown around allot on the pit bull forums that I frequent and it seems to get put out there as the panacea to all training problems...and it seems to me to boil down at least in the context that I most often see it used (if you read between the lines)...to teach your dog it's place and some respect and all your problems will go away.

    Well...how about teach your dog what you want it to do in place of the behaviors that you don't want to see, and make doing what you do want AWESOME?
    brodys_mom likes this.
  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Dr Sophia Yin has her own version of NILIF, as described here.
    http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/the-learn-to-earn-program
    I'm sure it has merit when used properly and for the right reasons. Some vet behaviorists recommend that it be used with every rescue dog in their new homes from day one. I'm not sure that is necessary, but it may be a good way to "begin with the end in mind", that is, to not let the honeymoon stage lull you into thinking that your dog will always behave the way he does when you first bring him home.
    Eight years ago, NILIF was recommended to me for use with a young dog with severe resource guarding. At the time it really felt like the point was to show dominance rather than leadership, but I think that was because he was in total control and I was very desperate to "fix" him quickly. I was only able to try the program for one day before I had to surrender the dog in order to protect my young children. The rescue group that took him from me put him down a week later due to aggression.
  5. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I found two very different videos on NILIF. (Here is video one:)



    My thoughts...
    "Never Play Tug of War." Actually I think tug of war is a great game to provide mental stimulation and physical exercise and I have no problem playing it with any dog with rules. They should not be allowed to touch your skin even by accident or the game ends so they will learn to be very careful. They should drop it when you ask and not start until you let them know it is okay. (So for example if I am holding it up high I don't want my dog to go for it until I bring it low so they jump up on me for it.) ...and I will let my dog 'win' as long as he brings it back when I ask him to. I think letting shy/ less confidence dogs win helps build confidence.

    "Make your dog Stay Down for At least a Full 30 mins" Okay, I have no problem with down stays and I think it is a great activity for building self control, but I have never specifically worked on a 30 min down stay. First I think most people would forget they put their dog in a down stay that long ago and not follow through with it that long. Plus I don't see a benefit to a 30 min stay and I don't think it would be fare for a really active dog. Now as for down stay at the dinner table I can see and I actually think that it is good for dogs to learn to settle when their people are settled. That is something service dogs are taught and it becomes in automatic thing. When I am sitting, sleeping my dog is generally relaxed.

    "Do not reward your dog when they have not first earned praise" Okay. I could live with that. I generally reward my dog when they do something I like. "When your dog Demands Petting make him sit first." I have done this most often. The majority of the time when my dog wants petting he will sit out of habit.

    "Only issue commands that you are in a position to enforce." I agree with this although enforce sounds harsh. I will be consist with my dogs with training and if I ask them to do something I do expect them to (with in reason). Now my 'enforce' might just be stepping in front of them when they are getting distracted or reminding them with a hand signal and then going back with just a verbal. If they are out side a leash may be helpful but I would disagree with your dog always needs to be on a leash and training collar every time you give a command.
    Like if you ask them for a down "They need to be Wearing a Training Collar and Leash". Or you could just make 'Down' a really fun command that they are going to want to do anyway!

    "You Need to be the First one to Walk Through Doors the First one to Eat (to show you are the leader)" Umm, okay. I have no problem with dogs waiting at doors and I think it is a great command to teach and great for safety purposes as well. My dog does automatic waits and I could keep the door open and walk out of the room and not say anything to my dog and not worry about him going out. Now sometimes he goes out first, sometimes he waits, sometimes we go out together and sometimes he is the only one that goes out. I think it is polite and safe for a dog to learn to wait for instructions, but I am not convinced that a dog going out first is connected to them trying to be dominant and challenge. I think they are just excited to go outside and don't know better. Also the eat first thing, well I'll just say I don't really have a set time I eat and sometimes my dog eats first and sometimes I do. I never really thought about it and as long as my dog is polite when I'm eating I don't think it really matters.

    "Alpha Dogs Never walk behind the Pack they Always Lead" My dog is aloud to go ahead unless he is specifically told otherwise, however he is not allowed to pull on the leash. This has worked for us so far.

    "Your dog needs to work for everything" (Ball, hungry, walk etc.) I think it is good to incorporate obedience and tricks into playing ball now and then, although first I would be happy with an active dog bringing it back and putting it in my hand and then adding in other behaviors that would also work their mind.

    "If you can't watch your dog then he needs to be in his crate." I do agree it is good to use a crate when you can't supervise your dog. However I think crates can also be over used. For example If I can't watch my dog for 12 hours of the day, I need to readjust my schedule or make other arrangements for my dog. If I got a high energy breed I need to make sure I provide him plenty of exercise.

    "Do not let your dog sleep on your bed or any furniture" Oops broke that rule! I give my dog free access to furniture he is allowed on my bed and he also has a dog bed in the room which he utilizes both. River wasn't allowed on the furniture until he was house broken. He also learned the off command so that I can tell him if I want him to get off at anytime. I think allowing dogs on the furniture is more of personal preference. As long as my dog is polite and not jumping on me or trying to steal my food etc, I have no problem with him on the furniture. Now at one time I was training an excessively needy dog that insisted on sleeping on top of me and practically suffocated me so I did not allow her on the bed for a week. Then I allowed her on the foot of the bed but if she tried to lay on top of me she went back on the floor for the night. Then she was allowed anywhere on the bed that wasn't directly on top of me. So, maybe for some reasons it would be beneficial. Or if they are aggressive to their humans or guests like some dogs you see on Ceaser Millan's show but otherwise I don't see a problem with it.

    "There is no limit to how many obedience sessions you do with your dog throughout the day, the more the better." I have always said the more training you do with your dog the better they will be. As long as you are consistent and make it fun for them. I would also teach tricks and mix it up not just limit it to obedience commands.

    "When your dog does something right praise them." I completely agree!
    Although they never talk about treats in this video and say that all dogs like physical contact and always use physical contact when praising your dog. That I disagree with. Shy dogs, rescue dogs, fearful dogs may not want physical contact and they may not find it to be a good thing.

    My other comment is that I think 'Dominant' dog is overly used and I don't like the term. 'Dominant' dogs are generally those extremely active dogs that need way more attention, mental stimulation and exercise and when they don't get the amount they need they 'misbehave' get labeled as 'dominant' and destructive due to "spite" and therefore you need to control them by being the leader and more in control.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  6. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Video 2:


    So this video is a completely different style and shows how 'behavior problems' are generally encouraged without people realizing it.
    They are also talking about how dogs will do different behaviors in order to get attention such as jumping up on people or stealing objects.
    Now I'm not sure that ignoring your dog stealing a pen off the table is at all beneficial. Maybe they are looking for attention by doing this or maybe they just need something to do and would have fun eating the pen which would not be good for them at all.

    Now for the asking the dog to do something when they want something I have no problem with. Although in the video they have the dog coming up and standing calmly, then they whine and bark then they run off and then the owner calls them back to sit for petting.

    I would rather ask them to sit when they are standing calmly or make sure to call them over plenty of times before they get to the point that they are barking and carrying on. At this point I would just ask them to lay down and relax for a while and then later on when they are calm and I am ready I will give them attention. Or make sure that I am giving them plenty of attention for things that I like and not waiting for the point that they want it so badly they are barking and doing other things I don't want.
  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Video 1: I am so sick of all this pack theory! How can supposedly knowledgeable people keep perpetuating this bunk?
    Video 2: They didn't do a very good job of capturing the bad behavior and showing how to deal with it. I don't know if this is NILIF exactly, just tackling certain habits that have resulted from indulging bad behaviors in the past, like the jumping up in greeting thing. I would not be very good at ignoring the dog completely and only giving attention on my terms. I personally love it when Brody comes up to me at random times and rests his head on my lap, or sits beside me and leans against my leg. It shows me that I have succeeded in building value for me in his mind, that he feels safe and confident with me, and that he doesn't have to perform or earn my affection every time he wants it, much like Kathy Sdao expresses in her book.

    My understanding of NILIF was that it was intended to be used for rescued or re-homed dogs in the short term to lay the ground work for appropriate behavior in their new home. It makes sense that way, because the dog would come with baggage and expectations that need to be addressed in order for learning to begin. I think of it like if I were fostering a child who had come from an abusive or neglectful situation, where the "rules" were not clear or up to what society deems as normal. It would be necessary to let the child know from the start what the rules are, what will and will not be tolerated, and what the consequences would be for breaking the rules. But along with that has to be a great deal of compassion and affection, if the child is open to that, with strong direction and communication, and plenty of "second" chances. Once trust has been established, the rules can be gradually relaxed or adjusted. Much like what you did with the foster who smothered you in bed.
  8. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I agree. If my dog puts his chin on my lap or is polite about asking for attention I usually encourage it.


    I could see it working with high energy/ young rescues, although my last rescue just needed space and quiet. So it would just depend on the dog.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  9. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I just finished re-reading this book. While I really liked it, it didn't give me the answers I was looking for. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the events that got the author questioning NILIF in the first place were when her rescue dog bit two of her friends when they were in her home. In her quest for answers, she consulted a fellow trainer who observed some unmannerly behavior by the dog and told her that her dog was spoiled and had too much freedom. She realized how her own clients must have felt when she had told them the exact same thing, and immediately began to ask herself, "Is Nick's lunging and snapping at people correlated with his unearned privileges?" In her own mind, she knew the answer was "no", and suddenly felt the weight of all the times she had given that same irrelevant advice to clients.

    Rather than use the napalm of NILIF as a cure-all for a variety of unwanted behaviors, she advocates focusing on only the wanted behaviors, and managing the ones that you can't or won't tolerate until they can be properly dealt with. Left unrehearsed or unrewarded, many of these behaviors will extinguish themselves. Her alternative to NILIF is SMARTx50. See, Mark and Reward Training ignores the bad and instead encourages the owner to look for the good things the dog does, and reward them 50 times every day. These will then be the things the dog is more likely to repeat, and the ignored/managed behaviors will eventually fade. This can also include things you have taught your dog; simple obedience as well as tricks.

    As she says in her book, NILIF is nearly impossible to implement. Owner compliance rarely comes close to 100%, and this is really what is necessary for the program to be successful. It feels "wrong" to most people, I think, and so we make allowances or forget ourselves and break the protocol. Like a very restrictive weight-loss program, we feel that, if we fall off the wagon even just a little, we might as well go ahead and eat the whole cake, and start over on Monday!

    As for dealing with serious problem behaviors, like biting friends (or strangers!), the prescription is not NILIF, but consulting a qualified behaviorist who can help identify specific triggers and tailor a training plan to your dog and your circumstances. This is surgical and tactical, not a shot-gun method.
    running_dog likes this.
  10. running_dog Honored Member

    And you wanted a shotgun? :LOL:
    brodys_mom likes this.
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    No, but I will admit to saying out loud on more than one occasion: " Why is it you can bite me, but I am not allowed to bite you back?"

    In all seriousness, though, I talked with a trainer who was going to use a prong collar on Brody because "there has to be consequences to biting". I told her "no thank you". My vet has given me the name of a behaviorist who is about 30 minutes away. On his website and other places it lists all his credentials and awards, he is referred by many vets in the area, and has mentored many other trainers. There is nothing about his training style or philosophy, so I hope he turns out to be as good as he sounds. I believe he is from the UK, his name is Tony Parker and he started the Canadian Institute for Professional Dog Training. If he recommends NILIF, I may scream.
    running_dog likes this.
  12. running_dog Honored Member

    LOL maybe give him a copy of "Plenty in Life is Free" as you walk out :LOL:

    I see he has been involved in police dog training. Both dog trainers that I have come across from that background have not been trainers I would recommend. Let's hope this one is the exception. There isn't much about him is there? But this is a write up about a trainer who worked with him and these are testimonials for another trainer who worked with him. I see a common thread of pack leadership/dominance and control :unsure:
  13. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Yeah, the police dog thing sent up a red flag for me as well. (I had seen the other trainer you linked when I googled Tony Parker. The second link didn't work, though. ) Ugh, I thought I had finally found a behaviorist to help with Brody. The vet said she never advocates the use of prong collars, but some dogs need a "heavier hand". Now that I think about it, she went on to talk about how some of her patients who had been to Tony shared some of his "wisdom" like how letting a dog sleep on your bed can increase aggression.
    running_dog likes this.
  14. running_dog Honored Member

    Sorry, here it is again (I hope).

    The trainer might be okay, but it is worth being very very cautious as Brody already has a big problem with internalising his issues. Normally 100% positive behaviourists have that printed in bold type all over their websites and talk fairly openly about their methods, the fact these are all on the cagey side makes me nervous. Perhaps you could meet without Brody first. I think Zac's current vet is very very good with canine health but I don't trust his judgement on training.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  15. running_dog Honored Member

    Positive behaviourists websites look like this one (I linked you to an interesting blog post but the rest of the site is worth looking round). Maybe she would be able to recommend a trainer in your area?

    Oddly enough websites reflect the attitude the trainer takes with the dogs. Or maybe that isn't so odd, I saw one of the ex-police trainers interacting with his young son, he was straight in there pointing out his son's faults and telling him off, he never picked out any of the good things his son did, never set him up to be good, and then complained to me that he didn't know what to do as his son never listened to him, it would have been funny if it hadn't been so sad. It wasn't surprising then that he also set Gus up to fail to "prove" he was aggressive towards other dogs (I was left unsure of whether the trainer was ignorant or deceitful, I don't suppose it helped his ego that I laughed at him!).

    I got a really NILIF feel from the other three sites - you get no help until you pay them money, positive trainers websites just don't feel like that, compare them with Sue Garrett, Emily Larlham, Jean Cote, and the one I just listed.

    Still thinking about this and my previous post I remember (probably not with the right terms:rolleyes: ) that Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) describes people as having either a starvation attitude (trying to keep everything to themselves because there is not enough to go round) or a plenty for all attitude, now which of these types of people are more likely to use NILIF and which will favour training using PILIF? Now I've thought of that if I see a starvation attitude in a dog trainer's website I'll be very very cautious.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  16. running_dog Honored Member

    Don't know where you are (I'm just guessing from where the Parker man seemed to be) but is this trainer anywhere near you? Again I've linked a blog post, but the rest of the site is interesting too, plenty on this website is free :LOL: and looks a lot more promising than the one your vet recommended.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  17. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I have seen this before, when I was looking for treibball. Unfortunately, we are just outside of her service area. Too bad, she looks really good.
    This is one I have seriously looked at, but my vet suggested she might be "too gentle" to be effective. Like you said, sometimes vets aren't the best with behavior/training advice.
    running_dog likes this.
  18. running_dog Honored Member

    I think that one looks much better than Parker and to me she has good names up there as mentors. Ignore the vet on this one, or rather don't ignore the vet, you just got a positive recommendation from the vet for this one, she uses gentle techniques (y).
    brodys_mom likes this.
  19. southerngirl Honored Member

    :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: Piper sleeps on my bed every night, she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.
    running_dog and brodys_mom like this.
  20. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I decided to contact the one trainer who was outside my area, just to ask if she could recommend anyone who was closer to me. She was in a class when I called, but answered the phone and told me she would call back. In the mean time, I emailed the other one, who is close (the "gentle" one), and thought I would see who got back to me first. The one I phoned called exactly when she said she would, and we talked for quite a while on the phone. She sounds really awesome, and is willing to come out to see us on Wednesday afternoon. She will also bring two of her own dogs in case things go well. Her prices are quite reasonable, and she is very encouraging. She echoed many of the things you said, running_dog, about exit strategies. What she thinks might have happened when we had our last visitor here was that Brody had been flooded, and what I thought was calmness was actually him shutting down. When he bit our visitors hand the next morning, that was spillover from the previous day's excitement and stress. She suggests keeping Brody away from visitors for the most part, allowing him into the room, perhaps letting him take a few steps toward them, call him back, reward then remove him to another room.

    Oh, and I asked her if she had heard of Tony Parker, but she hadn't. I mentioned that he was the founder of the Canadian Institute for Professional Dog Trainers. She had heard of that, and did not have nice things to say. Basically, they teach dominance and pack theory. Kind of what we suspected.
    running_dog and southerngirl like this.

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